Aberdeen firm rolls out 12-minute Covid tests

Aberdeen-based TAC Healthcare Group has rolled out the latest in Covid-19 testing technology, which deliver results in just 12 minutes.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 7:30 am
The firm says it is among the first worldwide to deploy the new kits for Covid-19 testing. Picture: Abermedia/Michal Wachucik.

The innovative new test kits, from UK-based life sciences company, LumiraDx, are small and highly portable, and detect the virus antigen protein from a nasal swab. It emerged last month that NHS Scotland had agreed a £6.76 million deal with LumiraDx to purchase 300 rapid testing machines as well as a minimum of 500,000 tests.

TAC has invested in 30 at its test centre in the North-east, where they are now fully operational, serving clients in the oil and gas, maritime and professional sports sectors, including players from Aberdeen Football Club. The firm is among the first companies worldwide to deploy the new “lab-in-a-box”-style kits for Covid-19 testing.

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Ken Park, clinical director, said: “One of our ambitions is to relieve some of the pressures facing public sector healthcare, which has undoubtedly been put under significant, additional strain by the pandemic.

The company’s clinical director Ken Park says the tests will help avoid sending possible carriers offshore. Picture: Abermedia/Michal Wachucik.

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“Through ground-breaking technologies like this, we are enhancing our existing test capabilities, as well as helping to keep coronavirus out of the North Sea, and providing positive results into the national Test and Protect team. In terms of asymptomatic or at-risk testing, we have done more than 48,000 tests to date, and have shared our data with public health.”

From 100 tests a week at the start of the pandemic, TAC is now performing more than 4,000 every seven days, partly as the result of increased offshore manning levels.

Park added: “By offering accurate testing in minutes, we have a greater opportunity to avoid sending potential carriers onto an asset or vessel where, in those types of an enclosed spaces, the virus could easily spread and cause the whole operation to shut down.

“Previously, workers have had to spend two days in a hotel room by themselves. With this new technology, they can come in for a test from 5.45am and be back at the heliport ready to go offshore, armed with their results, that same morning.”

To accommodate the increased demand for its Covid-19 testing services, TAC has also expanded its operation, with the purchase of a larger facility in Dyce in July.

The building will also become the home of the company’s growing occupational health team and services, which include medical reception cover, biennial medical checks for offshore workers, the provision of offshore medics and topside cover, as well as the delivery of health and wellbeing programmes for office-based staff.

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